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  • Day192

    First day in Uzbekistan

    September 18, 2019 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Can you feel at home at several places at once? Or maybe home really IS where the heart is? I had no trouble adapting to the life back home and enjoyed being in my family home a lot. At the same time, moving back into Hans felt familiar and right as well.
    Having underestimated the time it gets dark here, we drove much longer than we usually do after crossing the border yesterday. But the Fergana valley is heavily populated and we needed to find a place to sleep. We reached our destination around 8pm in pitch black, had a quick snack and went to bed.
    Hence, settling in was left to this morning. Still accustomed to a different time zone, we got up around 8am, with the sun shining on our roof and a flock of sheep passing by our campsite next to a small canal. Curious people walk or cycle past, most of them just nodding or waving hello, some asking where we're from but none of them intruding. Just after breakfast, a man and his son walk up, a bit more interested than the others. We converse with hand and feet and a few words in Russian and I gift two pens and a notebook to the little boy. Turns out, we had just met our neighbours, living just 100m down the road. We're invited for tea, but knowing that we need to move on, we decline gently.
    It's time to get Hans organised after all! Thankfully we didn't bring back as many items as we took home, so everything finds its place quickly and Hans's tidyness is restored. Just as we're about to finish our neighbour's wife comes over. She gifts us grapes and dried apricots from the garden and smiles broadly. How I wish I could communicate at least a little bit more... Our heartfelt "spasiba" and "thank you"s must have made their way through despite of the language difficulties though. And so we part ways.
    While we were planning to take the shortest route to Samarkand, we need to get money and a sim card. Coincidentally the next opportunity to do so, presents itself next to a silk factory. Well, we don't want to miss it, especially since we're travelling on the silk road and Uzbekistan is the world's third largest silk producer. The detour is totally worth it. We get money & a simcard, super fresh veggies and fruit at the local market and the tour through the factory is super interesting as well. Every step of the production is handcraft and super impressive. And our Russian speaking guide is doing such a good job that we even understand his explanations (there are English, French and German speaking guides, too, but he was free and eager to show us around).
    To top off our already super exciting and successful day, we're then invited for tea by the owner of the house where we parked Hans. There are only so many times you can say no and so we agree. Quite an interesting household! We're asked to sit down in the entrance area, where we're served a Fanta like drink immediately by one of his daughters or daughter-in-laws. Tiny quails are kept in cages made out of pumpkin skin that hang high just underneath the ceiling. Their chirping could definitely act as an alarm system! During the course of the conversation our host explains he sells them at the Fergana market.
    As we're drinking the Fanta, we're offered kefir as well. Wary of our horsemilk experience, we're reluctant but there is no saying no. The kefir is homemade from milk that the goat in the courtyard is providing. And it is delicious! Pleased that we like it, our host asks us to take the whole jar (made a beautiful sauce for our dumplings at dinner!) and a loaf of bread on top of that. We finish a few cups of tea, talk about this and that (interrupted with frequent glances towards the birds at the ceiling whenever we get lost in translation) and then bid farewell. There is not much of the day left and we want to cover a bit more ground. An hour later, we find our second campspot in Uzbekistan and take a deep breath. We're on the road again. And people are simply wonderfully friendly.
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